A letter from Mark Adams and Miriam Maldonado Escobar in Mexico
“Behold I will create new heavens and a new earth. . . . They will build houses
and dwell in them; they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit.”
—Isaiah 65:17, 21
We are blessed to see and experience God working through a wonderful diversity of people to give a glimpse of the new heavens and new earth that God is creating . . . right here in our midst on the U.S./Mexico border and beyond!
In the face of the news of division and violence, Frontera de Cristo provides a space for Presbyterians and Catholics, Quakers and Methodists, Mennonites and Episcopalians, government officials and recovering addicts, rich and poor and none-of-the above from both sides of the border to join together with God in living into a new reality.
From Barren Land to Food Jungle
Miriam has been working with the binational community organization DouglaPrieta Trabaja for over four years, reclaiming a barren piece of land and working hard to cultivate it to make it possible for a “food jungle” to grow. Judy Plank, a Quaker who was a partner with DouglaPrieta Trabaja when the efforts began and now lives in Iowa responded to the pictures of the Community Garden: “Wow! I can’t believe it! This is beyond my expectations.”
In addition to providing nutritious food for the participants and the neighborhood, the Community Garden provides a witness to and an educational laboratory for God’s creative power. Frontera de Cristo's intern, Josias Casanova, facilitated a two-week summer camp for children of the Nuevo Progreso community and Lirio de los Valles church. The focus was on how to be good stewards of the creation that God has blessed us with. On two days Miriam taught the children about permaculture—the highlight being a visit to the Community Garden.
"Wow!" was heard from the children as they discovered how to turn weeds, table scraps, chicken and rabbit excrement into rich soil. Luis was skeptical about smelling the compost, but once he took the leap of faith he said: "This doesn't stink, this smells good!"
From Enclosed and Stifling to Comfortable and Liberating
While commuting on my bike recently, I caught a whiff of another good smell—the smell of coffee roasting, the smell of families having opportunities to be reunited, the smell of consumers and producers being connected across borders in right relationships, the smell of U.S. and Mexican Christians joining together to address root causes of immigration, the smell of justice—the smell of God creating new heavens and a new earth!
Fourteen years ago as a teenager Carmina Sanchez left the beautiful verdant coffee-growing mountain town of Salvador Urbina, Chiapas, on the Guatemala border and migrated to the dry and dusty northern border factory city of Agua Prieta, Sonora, on the U.S. border, whose beauty is a bit more difficult to discover. She joined hundreds of the young people who were leaving their ancestral lands because of the depression in coffee prices that devastated many communities. Instead of continuing in school she began working in the factories to help support her family. She met her husband, Oscar, in Agua Prieta and now Agua Prieta is home.
Carmina now works for Café Justo, a grower-owned coffee cooperative from her hometown, in their roasting facility in Agua Prieta. When asked what Café Justo means to her, she responded: "A totally new form of life not only for me but also for the people of my hometown." The work week for Café Justo is 40 hours and not 48 as in the factories and yet she gets paid almost double what she would make in the factory.
But perhaps the biggest advantage is that Café Justo provides more flexibility and is more family-friendly. "In the factory, we were enclosed and were so tired. Now I have more time to fellowship with my family and can participate in the ministry of the church more. The work environment is also much more comfortable and supportive."
Carmina began in the packing area, but now after receiving training she is the person who receives all the orders, creates the invoices, tracks accounts receivable, and communicates the orders to the roasting room. So when you order Café Justo, Carmina is the woman who gets your order rolling.
"I am so happy, because what began as a dream of a few persons is a wonderful reality that is blessing many families." Including Carmina's!
Celebrating Ten Years of Roasting up Justice, Preparing for More
On Saturday, September 29, Café Justo will be celebrating its 10th anniversary. Six farmers will be travelling to their roasting facility in Agua Prieta to join with their employees, ministry partners and customers from the north of Mexico and southeastern Arizona to give thanks to God for 10 years of new opportunities for their communities.
In celebration of the 10 years of helping dreams come true, Presbyterian Border Ministry is collaborating with Café Justo to encourage its partner churches and individuals who are not already in relationship with Café Justo or the Presbyterian Coffee Project to begin ordering coffee from Café Justo—strengthening the connection of the body of Christ across borders through a good cup of coffee.
The farmers of Café Justo from the beginning have been about sharing God’s blessings with their community, outside their community, and outside of their country. What began as the vision of one community now has taken hold in four coffee-farming communities in three states in Mexico. In addition, the coop has worked together with Frontera de Cristo’s Just Trade Center to help two cooperatives in Haiti form.
Thank you for your support and encouragement that helps make it possible for us to witness to and be a part of the new creation that God is weaving together across borders!
The Adams Maldonado Family
Miriam, Mark, Cindy, Anna Flor, and Nathan
The 2012 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 4